"No-one should be disadvantaged by where they live", said Rushmoor Borough Council's community development manager
Neighbourhoods labelled as disadvantaged are making great strides to rid themselves of the tag, according to the team tasked with improving Aldershot and Farnborough.
Rushmoor Borough Council’s strategic partnership team is three years into a scheme aimed at improving the quality of life in highlighted areas of the borough.
The most disadvantaged locations identified are parts of Aldershot Park and North Town, in Aldershot, and specific areas of Cherrywood in Farnborough.
Rushmoor was ranked at 248 out of 326 local authorities for deprivation in the latest government figures, and the council has made improving this a priority.
Pockets of deprivation are surrounded by prosperous areas – Hart, Surrey Heath, Waverley and Guildford, for example, continue to be some of the least deprived areas in the country.
Louise Webber, community development manager, said the council’s neighbourhood renewal strategy, with the slogan ‘Improving neighbourhoods, changing lives’, had already seen results in terms of crime rates, education and employment opportunities.
“No-one should be disadvantaged by where they live,” she said.
“There is a huge amount of work going on and the last three years have seen some really promising outcomes.
“For a neighbourhood to no longer be identified as disadvantaged, it takes time. It takes long-term engagement with neighbourhoods and sustained commitment from agency partners.”
In Cherrywood, which has received the most attention from the partnership, targeted actions include lowering crime rates and improving education by driving up attendance in schools through working with children’s partnerships and building relationships between primary and secondary schools.
Work placements and apprenticeships are also being offered, supported by organisations and businesses.
This allows unemployed people to work alongside skilled tradesmen to carry out work such as paving, constructing public benches and bollards and maintenance of property.
After a four-week period, participants get a reference and can undertake formal tests to earn a certificate in construction skills.
The council believes physical redevelopment of the identified areas can be improved, and the North Town neighbourhood renewal project is an important part of this.
Other work includes turning the Prospects Centre in Cherrywood into a community hub by providing information on things like employment, health and training.
Rushmoor chief executive Andrew Lloyd said: “Our hope and intent is to have no areas that fall into the deprivation indices by addressing many of the issues that are linked to it.
“We are dealing with particular things like that in the hope that when the new indices come out we will be lifted up.
“It’s very easy for local authorities to identify why they can’t do things. The important thing is to say we can’t do it on our own but if we work with others we can make a difference.
“None of these things change the world overnight, they are longer term projects, but you don’t achieve anything if you don’t start.”